Jul. 3, 1886 Baltimore Baltimore City Maryland, USA
Dec. 13, 1969 Pebble Beach Monterey County California, USA
US Navy Admiral.
He commanded the US Navy forces during two of the most significant naval battles that took place in the Pacific theater during World War II, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Philippine Sea is thought by many to have been one of the finest naval tacticians in modern history. The Battle of Midway was the first major victory for the US over Japan and was probably the turning point of the Pacific war.
Born Raymond Ames Spruance, his family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana when he was young. After graduating from Shortridge High School there and further schooling at the Stevens Preparatory School in Hoboken, New Jersey, he was accepted into the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1903, graduating in 1906.
His first tour of duty was aboard the battleship USS Iowa, followed by another tour aboard the battleship USS Minnesota during the world cruise of the Great White Fleet. He was commissioned an ensign in September 1908 and he underwent additional training in electrical engineering at General Electric before being posted to battleship USS Connecticut in May 1910. After serving aboard the USS Cincinnati, he became commander of the destroyer USS Bainbridge in March 1913 with the rank of lieutenant (junior grade).
In May 1914 he returned to the US and performed shore duty as Assistant to the Inspector of Machinery at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia. Two years later, he aided in outfitting the battleship USS Pennsylvania, then under construction in the yard. After its completion, he joined its crew and remained aboard until November 1917. He then became Assistant Engineer Officer of the New York Navy Yard, New York City, New York.
At the end of World War I, he served as executive officer on the passenger steamship USS Agamemnon which returned American troops home before moving through a succession of engineering postings and destroyer commands. Between April 1919 and June 1921, he successively outfitted and commanded the destroyers USS Aaron Ward and USS Percival. He was then assigned to the Bureau of Engineering, Navy Department, Washington, DC, to the Commander Naval Forces Europe, followed by command of the destroyers USS Dale and USS Osborne.
In July 1926 he attended the Senior Course at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, followed by a tour in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland, Maryland before being posted to the battleship USS Mississippi in October 1929 as executive officer. During the 1930s he held several engineering, intelligence, staff and Naval War College positions. In February 1940, at the rank of captain, he became Commandant of the 10th Naval District with headquarters at San Juan, Puerto Rico. The following October he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral and in August 1941, he completed his tour in Puerto Rico.
The following month he assumed command of Cruiser Division Five, and after the US entered World War II on December 7, 1941, he served in the Pacific Theater as second in command during operations in the Marshall Islands and at Wake Island in February 1942, and in the same capacity during the Marcus Island operations the following months. He was Junior Task Force Commander during the Battle of Midway in June 1942, when his force assisted in inflicting on the Japanese Navy its first decisive defeat in three hundred and fifty years.
Following the Battle of Midway, he reported as Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet, and in September of that year was designated Deputy Commander-in-Chief. In August 1943 he became Commander Central Pacific Force, re-designated in April 1944 as Commander Fifth Fleet.
He was promoted to the rank of admiral in February 1944 and during these Pacific assignments, he was in overall command of the occupation of the Gilbert Islands in November 1943, the invasion of the Marshall Islands in January 1944, the operations for the capture of Saipan, Guam and Tinian in the Mariana Islands, which included the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and later in 1945 for the capture of the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
In November 1945 he became Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas and in February 1946 he became President of the Naval War College, retiring in that position at the rank of admiral in July 1948, with 41 years of continuous military service.
Among his military decorations and awards include the Navy Cross, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal with 3 gold stars, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the World War I Victory Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, with Asia Clasp the Belgian Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold with Palm and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Greek Gold Cross of the Chevalier of the Order of the Savior, and the British Honorary Companion of the Order of the Bath.
In 1952 he was appointed as American ambassador to the Philippines by President Harry S. Truman, serving until 1955.
He died at the age of 83.
The destroyers USS Spruance, lead ship of the Spruance-class of destroyers, and USS Spruance, the 61st ship of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, were named in his honor. The main auditorium of the US Naval War College is memorialized as Spruance Hall and his bust is in the lobby.